Writing by Peter Hilton

Good manager/bad manager

Choices that managers make and you can too 2021-10-05 #management

unsplash-logoDan Loran

Don’t become all of the bad managers you’ve ever worked for. Become a better manager than them, and you’ll have already learned more than most management books can teach you.


Bad managers justify treating people badly (bullying) as ‘tough love’ and ‘necessary for the business’. Good managers behave how everyone would want everyone else to behave.

Bad managers ‘pressure people’ until they complain, as if that somehow makes them complicit in the abuse they receive. Good managers respect personal, moral, ethical, and employment law boundaries.

Bad managers disparage remote working because they want to project status through physical presence and office layout. Good managers embrace remote working because it leverages the trustful relationships they teach their teams to build.


Bad managers stick to the norms, values, communication style and culture of where they come from. Good managers learn from and adapt to the communities and people they join.

Bad managers try to find out who gave anonymous negative feedback. Good managers reflect on anonymous feedback and demonstrate improvement to everyone.

Bad managers justify bad practices by claiming ‘it’s standard’. Good managers avoid stagnation by doing the work to raise standards.


Bad managers spend the majority of team meetings and one-on-ones talking. Good managers listen, and acknowledge that all team members can contribute.

Bad managers refuse to make themselves clear, and ignore feedback about what doesn’t work. Good managers take responsibility for listening and enabling understanding.

Bad managers defend sloppy wording that they ‘didn’t mean’, and don’t care about the consequences. Good managers communicate clearly and accurately, and correct themselves.

Bad managers talk over everyone. Good managers facilitate inclusion, participation and discussion.

Bad managers claim that their employee left the company ‘for personal reasons’. Good managers acknowledge their own organisation’s part in someone’s employment ending.


Bad managers dismiss other people’s opinions as baseless. Good managers recognise analysis based on domain knowledge and experience.

Bad managers dismiss other people’s experience and methods as ‘without proof’. Good managers ask what they can learn from other people and alternative approaches.

Bad managers respond to queries without answering the question asked. Good managers understand whether their answer will address why someone asked the question.

Bad managers respond aggressively to requests for support they cannot provide. Good managers acknowledge gaps in their own knowledge, and encourage research.


Bad managers complain that estimates and call them ‘too large’. Good managers seek to understand how estimates contribute to decision-making, if at all, before talking about the estimates themselves.

Bad managers complain that estimates and call them ‘too large’. Good managers seek to understand the estimation process and what kind of estimate it produced.

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